Adalius Thomas was interviewed on 98.5 The Sports Hub on radio row at the Super Bowl to promote his new marinade and the conversation quickly turned to the friction between AD and the Patriots. AD was part of the crew of players that were sent home one day before the Carolina game and he was unhappy about the situation, and made his unhappiness public. However, there was friction between he and Coach Bill Belichick after the Buffalo game Week One.
“After the Buffalo game, the first game of the year, something happened and I was like ‘I really don’t understand this.’ I really don’t want to go into it, because I still don’t understand it. I had a meeting and I just really didn’t understand some of the stuff I was being told. So I knew at that point it was bigger than what was on the surface. It was something bigger than that. You guys watch the games. I was used totally differently this year than I was last year before I broke my arm. Even before I came back, I was told that I was going to be used differently.”
He wouldn’t get into detail, but the feeling I get from his comments was that he was being called out based on his performance in the game. His stat line for the game (which doesn’t necessarily indicate overall performance) was 4 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, and 1 sack. Not bad, but he did also get a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty for driving the QB to the ground. He did state in the interview that he did not hear a whistle, which is why he continued taking the QB to the ground.
The most troubling quote for me, and what I feel might be the root of his problems here in New England, is where he comments on coaching vs. playing:
“The way they coach things and do things may be totally different than how I see it. There is a checks-and-balance system that really is not going to marry up because regardless of what you see as a player on that play, it really doesn’t matter if someone else sees it differently. Unless you’re on the field, there are a million things going on at one time. So when you see something and you go, you don’t have time to sit back and think or whatever. Monday through Saturday is for coaches. Sunday has to be for the player. You do adjustments and everything like that, which is great, but at the same time you can’t coach every single thing during the game. It’s just impossible to do because there are so many things going on. A player can’t tell you every single thing that happens in front of him because it happens so fast and there is the next play. You’re trying to go to the sidelines trying to recap everything and it’s kind of hard to do that.”
If the coaches are “seeing it differently,” perhaps he should listen to what the coaches have to say, especially if the game is moving too fast for him to see it. Coaches on the sidelines are constantly reviewing snapshots of the plays from the previous drive to see what the other team is doing. How many times do we players, especially quarterbacks, on the sidelines looking at binders of photos from the game to make the proper adjustments? Patriot players, guys like Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, etc, do see everything that’s happening and even have talked about having some back-and-forth with the coaches about what they see on the field compared to the snapshots. I recall Willie McGinest talking about through studying game film and such, observing and reading the 4th-down play the Colts were running in the famous “Goal line Stand” game from 2003. McGinest read the play and tackled Edgerrin James in the backfield. Perhaps AD can’t make those assessments and adjustments and just relies on his tremendous physical abilities. I am in no position to say that AD isn’t a smart enough player, but that just seems to be what I’m getting from this quote. That surprises me because of the versatility he displayed when he played in Baltimore.
The Patriots run a complicated system that requires smart players. Brandon Meriweather is learning that the hard way. He has been burned several times this past season by not being in the right spot, though he does have amazing physical abilities which allow him to make plays. His potential is limitless if he can marry the physical and mental aspects of the game. AD perhaps does have a point that the Patriots are not using him properly. Maybe they need to put him in more of a role where he relies on his physical abilities instead of having to read plays. I don’t know if that’s even possible to do in today’s NFL, but if anybody can figure it out it’s Belichick.
So will AD be back? With an uncapped year and uncertainty at the linebacker position, it’s certainly possible. Without a cap his contract number may not matter much if the Patriots do not have other players ready to step in. AD doesn’t know his own future, and commented on the matter:
“I want to come somewhere where I’m wanted and where I’m going to have fun. That’s where I want to be. I definitely didn’t have fun (this season). It was definitely a frustrating year as far as that goes.”